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How Eurostar Automated Refunds to Put Their Customer Experience Back on Track

Matt Lovell, Former Data, Analytics & Insight Director at Eurostar explains how automation transformed their customer experience in the wake of the pandemic  

On March 13, 2020, after two years of hard work, Eurostar replaced its 50-year-old ticketing system with a modern, data-driven platform.

On March 15, 2020, COVID-19 caused Eurostar’s passenger numbers to crash.

In this week’s episode of the Business of Data Podcast, Matt Lovell, former Data, Analytics, and Insight Director at Eurostar, explains why he reprioritized his data projects to improve customer experiences as pandemic disruption hit.  

“At the moment all of the projects that we would normally work on are largely on hold. So, it does give you the options to do a bit of a reset, whether it’s adding rigorous processes, fixing systems, or restructuring data in a way that we want it,” he says. “These are things that normally wouldn’t get looked at.”

Reacting to Customer Demand in Real-Time

As lockdowns began, Eurostar customers needed a way to easily reschedule or cancel their journeys. Unfortunately, their voucher-based compensation system was not designed to deal with a pandemic.

“That created a whole new management scenario that we hadn’t necessarily planned for,” Lovell says. “There were a lot of things we had to systematically work through.”

The first job, he explains, was quickly to take stock of the situation and prioritize key projects. Then, the team rapidly iterated on system modifications and introduced automation designed to improve customer experiences.

“We started to [ask] how we could gradually move to a point where as much of this was automated as possible and as much of this was visible to the customer as possible.”

Automating key parts of the process helped Lowell to implement a convenient system for customers to switch tickets and claim refunds online. It also proved the value of automation to the business.  

“The resource that was needed for us to do it manually at the beginning was so substantial,” he says. “[Now] we can build this in a way where it barely has any of that.”

“Not only is that reducing the stress on the business but it’s also improving the customer experience, so it’s really a win-win,” he concludes.

Key Takeaways

  • Use ‘downtime’ to reevaluate data priorities. If your regular projects are on hold, take the opportunity to take a fresh look at your priorities
  • Iterate for success. Even if a system is not perfect immediately, by iterating over time you can make incremental improvements
  • Automation can create a win-win. By making systems more efficient, data leaders can improve customer experiences and prove business value at the same time.

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